Mayfield Park is an absolute gem. This Central Austin park includes a 27 acre nature preserve, 2 acres of beautiful gardens, an historic cottage, water-lily ponds, and peacocks greet you at the entrance!
Mayfield is one of my favorite free things to do in Austin.
Certainly there are plenty of beautiful Austin parks to visit, but Mayfield is the only one with peacocks roaming the park grounds.
While people love to visit Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin let’s face it, if you want to avoid the crowds you need to get away from downtown.
Peacock Park Austin, as it is informally known, is close to downtown. The official name of the peacock park is Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve.
Either name it makes for some free fun in Austin that you won’t find anywhere else in town.
READ MORE: Best Rooftop Bars in Austin Texas
History of the park
Mr. Allison Mayfield, former Texas Secretary of State, purchased the property in 1909 as a summer retreat for his family. Later the Mayfield’s daughter Mary Frances married Milton Gutsch and they moved into the home in 1922.
After Milton Gutsch died in 1967 and Mary Mayfield Gutsch died in 1971, she gifted the property to the City of Austin to be used as a park.
Certainly Mayfield Park is a beautiful gift to the city of Austin and all who visit the park.
Why are there peacocks at Mayfield Park?
Originally only two peafowl lived at Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve.
Now all of the peacocks you see are descendants of the original pair of peafowl given as a Christmas gift to the Mayfield’s in 1935.
In the springtime visitors to Mayfield Park will see the peacocks fanning their tail feathers. So you’ll see the males strut their stuff and display their eye-catching plumage in the hopes of attracting the females.
If you have kids take them to the peacock park! Children (and adults who are still kids, like me) love watching these exotic birds display their beautiful feathers.
The female peafowls are less flamboyant than the males. Both peacocks and peahens can fly short distances and are often rest in the trees or on top of the cottage at Mayfield Park.
If you don’t see any peacocks when you go the park look up on the roof and watch for them in the trees.
Best time to see peacock tail feathers
Although peacocks lose their tail feather in the summer months, you can enjoy the gorgeous plumage during the springtime.
For the best chance to see the peacocks displaying their exotic tail feathers at Mayfield Park visit from February through June.
Although in winter they still do look rather fancy, even without their full tail feather plumage.
Because the peacocks at Mayfield were hatched and raised at the park, they are tame and used to people wandering around.
The baby peacocks are not born with their tail feathers and they don’t start growing tail feather until around three years old.
Each year the peacocks train of feathers will increase in size and number of feathers along with the eye of the feather becoming larger.
What is that sound peacocks make?
As if the extravagant tail feather display weren’t enough to draw admirers from the female population, the peacocks also have a loud mating call.
Apparently peahens are easily distracted or have a sort of attention deficit problem.
Anyhow they need more than fancy feathers to keep their attention on one handsome male.
Hang around Austin peacock park during mating season and you will hear the males calling a loud ‘hoot’ to attract the females.
The peacocks wander all around the entire grounds of Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve. During mating season the peacocks can be heard from blocks away when they let out a loud hoot to attract the females.
Apparently many of the calls are ‘fake sex sounds’ according to scientists and reported in this article from Independent in the UK.
Imagine that, peacocks are faking it to attract a mate. Poor desperate fellas!
Mayfield Park hiking trails
Mayfield Park is open to the public daily from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm. Occasionally the grounds may be rented out for private events such as weddings so check out the hiking trails instead.
The hiking trails at Mayfield are well marked with signage. Have a look at the board with the map of all the hikes at the park. As far as Austin hiking trails go, Mayfield’s are easy and usually not crowded. Although sometimes the parking lot in Mayfield does get full, there is usually room for overflow parking on the road.
Because Austin experiences mild winters you can enjoy hiking at Mayfield in the cooler months.
During spring and summer the foliage helps shade you from the hot Austin sunshine. You’ll find much of the trail system at Mayfield is well shaded the warmer months.
Gardens and lily ponds
The garden area is often rented out for weddings and other social events with the peacocks making for terrific photo opportunities. Zilker Botanical Garden is another top pick for outdoor weddings and marriage proposals in Austin.
Another thing I love about Mayfield Park and Preserve is the effort put into restoring the native landscape of the park. For example, they actively remove invasive plants from the park. As a result there is more sunlight filtering through to the ground and allowing seedlings the sunshine the need to grow and mature.
Because volunteers tend the gardens of Mayfield Park you’ll notice signs with their names in the garden plots.
The peafowl have free rein around the park. It is not unusual to see peacocks and peahens in the gardens or resting in the tree branches around the cottage.
Mayfield Park is a common destination for families during the daytime and in the evenings it is a popular and romantic date-night location.
In summary, if you are looking for one of the best free things to do in Austin outdoors, Mayfield Park should be at the top of your list.
Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve visitor info
3305 W 35th St, Austin Texas
5 am – 10 pm daily
Free parking at premises
Bus to Mayfield Park
From downtown Austin take bus#992 and transfer to bus #335 at 35th Street